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YOGA AND ALCHEMY                          209

i.e., from concentration on one point or object to pointless meditation,
and finally to the blessed stage of trance known as samadhL
^The peculiarity of yoga is that it combines this complete physical
^md mental rest with the increased intake of oxygen through different
lorms of controlled breathing. Nothing can be more ideal/for it seems
that with a light stomach, a posture of complete relaxation, and deep
respiration, the body is put in the unusually favourable state of getting
extra supplies of oxygen without corresponding expenditure of energy,
which is not the case in sports. It seems therefore understandable that
when this is practised at night in the complete silence of the house-
hold, the mind can be brought to a state of acute consciousness of the
body's internal functions and of itself. For in the final stages, what the
Mind does is to detach itself from itself and becomes its own spectator.
la the more subtle stages the mind as spectator tries to observe even its
own blank interval between one thought and another. The final stage,
when the mind is described as completely without thought and
capable of perceiving the subder forms of sub-atomic matter, and
divested of the usual idea of personality or self or the ego, is giveai
various religious interpretations. One interpretation is the complete
union of the individual soul with the world soul, and this is the goal
of all religious efforts in Hinduism. But however one interprets the
religious significance, that yoga state of mind, although similar to sleep
j£id a condition of auto-suggestion, is different from these other states
pi that the mind retains complete consciousness of itself and its control
of reflexes, and the yogi remembers vividly everything that happens in
this state.

In the description of his own practise, Su Tungpo revealed many
definite features of yoga. He controlled his breathing, which seems to
be one cycle of respiration in five pulse-beats, the ratio being 1:2:2,
for inhalation, holding, and exhalation respectively; and the maximum
period of holding his breath was "120 pulse-beats or over twenty cycles
of respiration", which, according to Hindu standards, is about the
lower limit of dharana, or 144 seconds. Like the yogis, he counted
his respiration cycles, and like them again, he claimed a period when
controjled breathing—regulation of the ratio of intake and expulsion—
becar/e automatic. In point of concentration, he also concentrated his
tEoi^ht on the tip of his nose (the "nasal gaze"), which is definitely
yoga. He also described a known yoga sensation when in the period of
complete mental rest plus heightened mental awareness he observed
vibrations going up his spine to the cerebrum, and also the raising of
his hairs in their follicles all over his body. And finally in the "Essay
on Conservation of Life" in his Journal he described the state of happi-
ness and the benefits of mental poise acquired from such exercise.

Concerning the mental part of the exercise his observations were also